From business to business, content marketing is handled differently. Depending on the methods and strategies behind it, it can be the difference between staying in business and not having one at all.
HomeAway, an online marketplace for vacation rentals, have proven themselves to be experts within their industry by utilizing tactful content marketing stratagems to drive their business and convert sales.
HomeAway is one of CopyPress’ first clients and continues to be part of our family today! In an interview with HomeAway Travel Editors, Kiley Vorreiter and Laura Hoot, we got an intimate look into what has made HomeAway so successful, and these ladies roles in making it all possible.
What is HomeAway?
“It’s the leading marketplace for vacation rentals – connecting travelers to hotel alternatives, from beach houses to mountain cabins, to houseboats, around the world,” said Laura.
“We provide tools for vacation home owners and managers to advertise their properties and manage the booking process easily. We are able to present an extensive selection of vacation rentals to travelers, along with vacation ideas and travel tips to help them decide where to stay and what to do on their next vacation,” added Kiley.
The Journey There
Kiley began her career with HomeAway as a customer service representative for VRBO.com. She quickly moved into a new role of copywriting and marketing. After five and half years with the company, her role has evolved to include SEO, content management, and strategy.
Laura, having experience in SEO and a degree in journalism, was in search of a position that was “both creative and analytical,” which led her to HomeAway. Like Kiley, Laura’s first position also included working as a customer service representative. She did some writing as well. As HomeAway’s SEO needs grew, so did her role, which was later shaped into a SEO-specific position that she holds today.
“Everything from analyzing traffic, to writing travel guides, to link building, to guest blogging, to researching keywords,” said Laura.
“I manage editorial calendars for a variety of content projects for our U.S. sites, and I manage the production process from concepts to publishing on the site. I also analyze the work we’ve done adding content to our sites to make sure it’s meeting our visitors’ needs – answering their questions or getting them to the right resources deeper within the site,” explained Kiley.
How It Works
Laura and Kiley work together in contouring and managing all the content projects that are fashioned to provide travelers with stimulus, concepts, and assets in developing their travel plans. The ladies work with a team of talented people who are well-versed in all areas of SEO and web management. The team works together in managing about 13 different sites, in 7 different markets.
“As a team, we are working on everything from high-level strategy to day-to-day writing, editing, publishing and managing of content across HomeAway’s sites around the world,” said Kiley.
A key facet of HomeAway as a company is its “global presence through a variety of locally-focused sites and teams.” The major difference between all the websites is “how they meet the advertising and traveler needs” by being very knowledgeable of each unique market. How people search for vacation rentals, travel information, and how to deliver that information in an easy-to-use way. User-experience is one aspect that the team is always making strides to improve.
“We really are a marketplace: connecting vacation rental owners and property managers to travelers,” said Laura. “We provide exposure and software and other things to make managing properties easier (for the owner), and then help travelers find the perfect accommodation for their trip – depending on where they want to go, when they’re going, what their budget is, etc.”
What Happens When Content is Created?
Once content is created, it is usually published as part of a campaign to offer comprehensive information about a destination or travel topic. The team studies the traveler’s needs. Where do they want to go? What are they looking to do? What type of information do they need?
“Say you’re traveling in September to the beach. We want to help you find the best September beach destinations where there are great rental options. So, we would create a content campaign around that,” explained Laura.
Many things factor into maintaining current and updated information on all the HomeAway sites. The content team keeps inventory of all the content across the different sites. They monitor when content is placed and when it needs to be updated. Keyword search volumes inform the team of what travelers are looking for and the type of information they’re after. Rental inventory communicates which destinations are more popular for vacation rentals.
“The seasonality of destinations also plays a big role,” said Laura.
So Why CopyPress?
“We wanted to provide unique, quality, and original travel resources to travelers. Since we have rentals all over the world, we needed to fill out our site with countless guides for destinations. CopyPress could provide a lot of content – but above all, of high quality,” explained Laura.
“I have always liked working with the great people at CopyPress, who’ve said ‘yes, we can do that’ to just about anything we throw at them. I love the easy CMS interface that allows us to review, approve and download content in the file format we need. I’ve always appreciated the quick response to any revisions I’ve asked for. It’s an easy working relationship to maintain, and CopyPress has evolved to meet our needs as we’ve demanded higher and higher quality on the articles they write for us,” said Kiley.
Laura and Kiley are major advocates for quality content for a business.
“It’s critical to being a useful resource for people – [HomeAway] as an idea inspirer and an industry leader for people planning to travel, and for people who are renting out their places” said Kiley.
“We have a zero tolerance policy for low-quality content, as we see no use for it. While we like traffic to our web sites, we want to get traffic for the right reasons,” explained Laura.
What’s the Secret?
Kiley and Laura believe that the secret lies within their customer-centered business culture. HomeAway drives sales “by providing education into the benefits of vacation rentals over lodging options like staying at impersonal hotels or pulling out the sofa bed at the in-laws.”
Like most successful online businesses, HomeAway understands the power behind social networking.
“We use it as another channel for engaging more directly with people interested in travel or who are part of the vacation rental community. Quality content on the site gives us another way to provide info to our travelers and vacation home owner communities. By giving them lots of resources, we can direct people to what they’re looking for, along with info about anything from how to rent a vacation rental for the first time, to learning about traveling to Austin for a festival like ACL,” said Kiley.
“We have teams dedicated to PR and social media, and we work with them regularly. These channels are placed to share the content we supply and use it to help drive engagement with Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc.,” added Laura.
How Do You Feel Content Marketing Will Shift in the Years to Come?
“I think the shift will be a continued increase in quality. Pages that are helpful and engaging will continue to gain a following and content that’s just slapped on the internet will get lost in the clutter,” said Kiley.
“I think how people will find content will change – they may use cues from their Facebook friends more so than today. But, the content that wins will always be the same. It will be practical, it will be high quality, because considering how oversaturated most markets are – with the Internet – that’s the only way you’ll stand out,” said Laura.
What is Something that New Businesses Can Take Away from HomeAway?
“Do what’s best for the customer! If you are doing social media or content or SEO, find out what your customers’ needs are – what information they’re looking for, what page on the site they should land on to enjoy the best user experience, etc. Use data, not just intuition, to drive your decisions, and think in the long term, not short. The search landscape is changing so quickly and so dramatically that it’s silly to base long-term strategies around today’s changing algorithms,” said Laura.
“Never get stuck in a rut on your content strategy and keep a loose grip on the editorial calendar. It’s great to plan, but know the plan will evolve as you go,” added Kiley.